book review

Feed Your Inner Nancy Drew | Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Friday, May 17, 2019

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: 4/16/19
Pages: 432
Source: from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!)
After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately. Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel. In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel. To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.
When Daniel meets Birdie, the two immediately click. He thinks she feels it too until she suddenly runs away from him. Birdie regrets leaving but she tries to put her past behind her since she’ll probably never see him again, right? On her first day at her new job, working the graveyard shift at a hotel, she runs into none other than Daniel, who happens to work there too. Fate must be at work here. Birdie loves a good mystery and when Daniel gives her the inside scoop about a questioning meeting that happens every week on Tuesday evening, she can’t resist joining forces with him. Daniel believes that this meeting has something to do with a mysterious bestselling author: no one knows his true identity. Together, the two must figure out what’s happening at the hotel. And if fate is truly at work here, is this a second chance to make Birdie and Daniel realize they’re meant to be? Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett is a fantastic contemporary romance that doubles as an awesome mystery.

  • I’ve never read a book written by Jenn Bennett before but Serious Moonlight will most definitely not be the last I read from her. I absolutely adored Bennett's writing; it was witty, realistic, and adorable at times. I plan on picking up her other works, Alex, Approximately and Starry Eyes soon. 
  • Serious Moonlight is set in Seattle, Washington. I've never been there so I cannot say much on its accuracy. However, the way Bennett describes all the sites, the beautiful skyline to the walks on the pier will make readers want to visit someday.
  • Spring is the perfect time to enjoy contemporary romances. Love is in the air, my friends. Yet, Bennett gives us more than just a fluffy romance. There’s a mystery afoot in Serious Moonlight. It focuses around a mysterious author: identity unknown. He visits the hotel Birdie and Daniel work at on the same day at the same time every week. The mystery gives off some major Nancy Drew vibes. The teen sleuthing is so much fun. It layered the plot to make readers even more invested in the romance as well as the characters. 
  • Not only is there a bit of mystery but Daniel brings some magic into the mix. Not fantasy magic but the pull-the-rabbit-out-of-the-hat kind of magic. These small elements Bennett adds to the story makes Serious Moonlight stand out. 
now you see me GIF
  • Birdie is such a great character. She’s a mystery buff. It seems she only accepts her position at the hotel to find the perfect summer mystery. Her skills at sleuthing makes for such a fun and entertaining read. Though she is not without her flaws. She tends to run away when things get tough. Bennett’s characters seem as real as you and me.
  • There’s a twist that neither Birdie nor the reader discovers until much later. I don't read many mysteries but I adored how Bennett gave us the chance to help solve the mystery alongside such an amazing pair, Birdie and Daniel. 
  • Daniel and Birdie win at the best date ever as Bennett whisks them to an old mansion to play a live action Clue game. Isn’t that the coolest? I'm all for a classic whodunit story. 
  • Nearing the end of the novel, a few of the chapters started to feel like great conclusions. I kept thinking, “Now that chapter would have made a great ending.” Serious Moonlight could have ended 50 pages before it did. This contemporary maxed out at 432 pages which is quite long for the genre. Still, Bennett is able to tie everything together and to give readers a lovely ending. Despite being a lengthy book, readers get to know the characters more deeply and feel for them more than if it had been your standard 300-page romance. 

Serious Moonlight was such a heartfelt romance and gripping mystery. Jenn Bennett’s writing was magnificent! The story hooks readers to the end and beyond. Serious Moonlight was a fun story filled with intricate characters, a detailed setting, and an unpredictable mystery. I will definitely be reading more from Bennett in the future.

Tackling my TBR

Tackling my TBR: May 2019

Friday, May 10, 2019

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. The concept of a TBR Jar is not a new one. I’ve seen it used in various ways throughout the bookish community. My jar will be a little different. The goal is to read the older books on my to-read pile. Thus, instead of putting individual book titles on a small sheet of paper to place in the jar, I wrote a month and a year on each. Each month, I intend to pull three sheets of paper from my jar which will dictate which three books I will read. The dates on the paper correspond with the date I added those books to my Goodreads account. Some months will have over 20 books to choose from, when others may have only one. From Goodreads, I’ll choose the three books from the three different monthly hauls. And if I cannot complete the book within the month, it will be unhauled.

In April, I tackled books from my May 2018, July 2011, and July 2012 book hauls. For most of the month, I was suffering from a reading slump. I did pick up Enchanted by Alethea Kontis which probably should have been read when I first got it years ago. It was meant for a younger audience. It featured a mashup of several fairytales that made it feel messy. As much as I got to Bite Club by Rachel Caine in April, I wasn’t able to pick up Last Breath. However, I got an audiobook of it and plan to devour it very soon. The same goes for The Fandom by Anna Day. There is no way I’m unhauling that one and when I saw an audiobook for it, I picked it up to ensure it will get read in May.

From the jar, I picked January 2015, February 2018, and January 2013 book hauls. From there, I chose the following books:

One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank: If it’s one thing I love immediately in books is a book set in Paris. Icing on the cake is a romance set in Paris. Yes, please. I can’t wait to read this one!

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: At the beginning of the year, I made the goal that I wanted to read more classics. I have read 0 classics so far. So, even though there were several books to choose from, I chose Great Expectations. I know nothing about this. However, I am familiar with Charles Dickens’ work as I’ve read the frustrating The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Hopefully, I’ll like this book better.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James: I’m all about Jane Austen retellings. I’m not too into mysteries but I’m willing to give it a go. Plus, as soon as I’m finished reading the book, I hope to watch the TV show.

Asian Readathon

The Asian Readathon is hosted by booktubers: Cindy from ReadwithCindy, Chloe from BookswithChloe, Ellias from Ellias, Kav from xreadingsolacex, and Sandra from gotathingforthings. Here’s the announcement for the readathon. This readathon takes place the entire month of May. There are a few challenges to complete during the readathon, which are listed below. Plus, a twist: participants must try to diversify their reads by reading from authors or featuring characters of different Asian backgrounds. Here’s the books I hope to get to:

Read a book by any Asian author

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo | From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Graphic novel featuring an Asian character or drawn/written by an Asian author + Book by an Asian author originally written in their native language

Fullmetal Alchemist (Vol. 16-18) by Hiromu Arakawa

Book that features an intersectional Asian character or it is written by an intersectional Asian author

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Asian readathon group book

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

What are you planning on reading this month?

Top Ten Tuesday

6 Book Characters That Remind Me of Myself

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

I don't go into a book looking to find a character that is me, exactly. I love reading about all sorts of characters. However, it's always a pleasant surprise to find a book character who reacts similar to how I would or likes the same thing as me. It immerses me further into a story.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: 6 Book Characters That Remind Me Of Myself:

Beatriz from Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre: Beatriz reminded me so much of myself! Primarily, her love for music really made me bond with her. I'm not the best singer, nowhere near as good as Beatriz but relaxing with a few rounds of karaoke sound like a great way to spend some downtime.

Penny from Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi: Emergency Contact reminded me a lot of my freshman year of college. Also, just like Penny, I was deemed the mother of my friend group as my purse always contains potentially needed items: snacks, chapstick, bandaids, and more. You can never be too prepared.

Louisa from Still Me by Jojo Moyes: Louisa starts her journey in Me Before You and from there, her character explores herself. She's searching for what she wants and what she wants to be. Louisa really struck me as myself because we've all been where she was, we've all been lost searching for something to bring us back to ourselves.

Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: If Emergency Contact was me in college, I would say Fangirl was me getting ready to go to college and the first few weeks there. New friends. Crowded dining halls. Emergency dance parties. And, of course, all the fanfiction.

Birdie from Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett: Something you may not know about me: I am a fan of the Nancy Drew PC games. In fact, I still play them to this day. I adore solving mysteries. I'm not as invested in finding little mysteries in my everyday life as Birdie is but I wouldn't mind playing the live-action Clue game that is featured in the book. Or the scavenger hunt.

Darius from Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram: I adored Darius from the start. We bonded over our mutual dislike for Subway (the sandwich shop, not the metro train). And our mutual love for Lord of the Rings.

Which book characters remind you of yourself?

book review

So Beautiful and Raw | All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton

Friday, May 03, 2019

All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: 5/7/19
Pages: 416
Source: author in exchange for honest review (Thank you!)
Lennon Davis doesn’t believe in much, but she does believe in the security of the number five. If she flicks the bedroom light switch five times, maybe her new L.A. school won’t suck. But that doesn’t feel right, so she flicks the switch again. And again. Ten more flicks of the switch and maybe her new step family will accept her. Twenty-five more flicks and maybe she won’t cause any more of her loved ones to die. Fifty times more and then she can finally go to sleep. Kyler Benton witnesses this pattern of lights from the safety of his treehouse in the yard next door. It is only there, hidden from the unwanted stares of his peers, that Kyler can fill his notebooks with lyrics that reveal the true scars of the boy behind the oversized hoodies and caustic humor. But Kyler finds that descriptions of blonde hair, sad eyes, and tapping fingers are beginning to fill the pages of his notebooks. Lennon, the lonely girl next door his father has warned him about, infiltrates his mind. Even though he has enough to deal with without Lennon’s rumored tragic past in his life, Kyler can’t help but want to know the truth about his new muse.
Kyler notices the new girl next door. Despite his father warning him to stay away, Kyler knows he needs to know her. Paired up for a school project, Lennon and Kyler get to know each other and find they have a deep connection to each other’s hearts. In All Our Broken Pieces, L.D. Crichton builds a magnificent romance, while representing OCD in a real light and detailing ever-present parent figures.

  • The writing is absolutely fantastic. Crichton creates a page turner that will have you feeling all the feels. All Our Broken Pieces will break your heart into pieces but slowly pick them all up again. This diverse contemporary tackles many discussions on societal roles and appearances to disorders and mental health. 
  • Kyler is mysterious and reserved, seen as high school’s loner. He’s also a singer and songwriter in a band. Swoon! Kyler’s lyrics are moving. I was inspired by some of his music that I wish we also knew the melody too. The music brought Kyler and his emotions to life in a way the plot itself never could. It is incredibly difficult to break down his walls, especially in the beginning. He has a nonchalant air to him, as if he doesn’t care about anything, while also being angry at the world. Before readers get to know him and his backstory, his flippant attitude makes him come off as a bit unlikable. 
emma pillsbury sigh GIF
  • Lennon has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Crichton creates a realistic portrayal of the disorder. The book not only portrays Lennon well but it details how the family is also effected by the disorder. It is represented extremely well; it’s very true-to-life.
  • Lennon is an amazing character. While Kyler writes song lyrics, Lennon sews and does remarkable creative projects. She’s a bit quiet like Kyler but is known to speak her mind. She’s also such a good character. Lennon is the reader’s bestie they didn’t know they needed. She is intelligent beyond her years. Her journey of facing her fears is something everyone can relate to. She’s also sweet on her younger brother, Jacob. Jacob is five years old, and on more than one occasion, lights up the page with his cuteness. 
  • Lennon and Kyler are brought together by their English teacher who pairs them up for a Shakespeare project worth a big portion of their final grade. It's the classic project/assignment pair trope we’ve seen in a lot of contemporary novels. Yet, you won't find me complaining. I adore this trope, especially if Shakespeare’s involved. 
  • This does suffer from a case of instalove. They have one monumental scene of deep connection. And then the next thing you know, they're confessing their love to each other. And as much as readers know the characters to be in depth and intricate, Kyler and Lennon know very little about each other besides their big secrets. And is it enough? As if this was a rom-com, All Our Broken Pieces executes a romantic grand gesture. Despite falling in love so fast, Kyler and Lennon’s relationship was so profound and beautiful. 
youre perfect love actually GIF
  • Something that sets All Our Broken Pieces apart from most contemporary YA is the very present parents. Crichton details a fantastic family dynamic throughout the novel with Lennon and her parents. It's so refreshing to finally see the parents being an active role in their child's life. 
  • It was Crichton's writing that kept me riveted. The book is told in alternating chapters (Kyler’s perspective and Lennon's perspective) which works perfectly. Many of the scenes in All Our Broken Pieces choked me up. The book is written so well that readers are easily moved by these characters' experiences and the story. It’s magnificent, yet heart breaking. 
  • The ending was filled with rays of sunshine. I'm smiling just thinking about it.

All Our Broken Pieces is a magnificent romance between two scarred, yet beautiful individuals. Crichton's writing truly makes these characters come to life. It's about believing in true love, and even more importantly, believing in yourself. All Our Broken Pieces will be sure to put a smile on your face (after making you cry, of course).

kickin' it

Kickin' It: April 2019 Wrap Up

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Kickin’ It is a feature at The Bucket List where I round-up the whole month in one post, bringing you reviews you may have missed, other awesome bookish things, and even what I’m currently obsessed with in other media besides books. April was such a great month. There was the first nice weather we’ve had in months. I met up with a few friends which is always great to unbury myself from my TBR mountain long enough to make human contact. And I read so many amazing books this month. I was able to say goodbye to my reading slump. The month started out a bit rocky since March’s reading wasn’t that great. However, some fantastic books saved the day and I was able to get back into my reading schedule. Overall, I read a total of 10 books which is probably my average so I’m counting it a success. Here’s the great books I read this month:

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (3 stars): I was hyped to read this one. I’ve had the series on my shelf for years and finally picked it up. And I probably shouldn’t have waited as long as I did because the plot was a bit younger on the YA scale than I was anticipating. It was a cute and fun retelling of The Princess and the Frog. However, Kontis tried to jam pack the story filled with several other fairytales that it started to get rather messy.

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story by Marie Kondo and Yuko Uramoto (4 stars): You know I love Marie Kondo. When the Netflix show came out, I spent the next week folding everything in my house precisely using her instructions. And believe me, it creates so much space! Since I’m still on hold for her other books at my library, behind another 100 people or so, I decided to give the manga a try. It was adorable but still told in such a way that I learned more about her tidying method.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman (3 stars): I wanted to love this one; I really did. And I’m still going to try out the TV show and read the sequel. However, The Magicians just wasn’t for me. The story revolves around Quentin who is a bit uninteresting and lethargic. I was waiting for the moment the characters and I would be excited about this hidden magic boarding school and that moment never came.

Bite Club by Rachel Caine (4 stars): I’m slowly working my way through the Morganville Vampire series. Bite Club was super-fast paced; the writing makes it so easy to read. The climax wasn’t as climatic as I wanted it to be. However, I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (5 stars): This one gets all the love! Choi created such amazing and real characters with real issues. Sam and Penny were so adorable! I wish we get a sequel someday.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (4.5 stars): Should I have read these before Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom? The world may never know. It’s interesting to see more of the Grisha side of Bardugo’s world than we received in the duology. Shadow and Bone had everything I love about fantasy. And hopefully, I’ll get to the next book soon!

All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton (4 stars): This one releases on May 7th and seriously, you do not want to miss it. All Our Broken Pieces is a magnificent romance between two scarred, yet beautiful individuals. It's about believing in true love, and even more importantly, believing in yourself. All Our Broken Pieces will be sure to put a smile on your face (after making you cry, of course).

As Kismet Would Have It by Sandhya Menon (5 stars): This short story started my month off right, kicking my ugly reading slump to the curb. It was so cool to hear what Rishi and Dimple have been up to since When Rishi Met Dimple ended. Side note: this novella is best enjoyed after reading There’s Something About Sweetie which releases this month (I didn’t know this before reading but it spoiled some minor details for me.)

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (4 stars): I’m just here for all of these cute reads this month! The relationship dynamic between a woman with Asperger’s and a male escort was done tremendously well… the chemistry! This one is definitely for an older audience.

Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau (4 stars): Can every graphic novel be this cute? Bloom is the epitome of an amazing, wholesome summer romance.

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon (5/14/19): The sequel we’ve all been waiting for! I can’t wait to read this! It follows Ashish, Rishi’s brother, who challenges his parents to set him up with someone. Enter Sweetie, who begins her project in hopes of showing the world what she’s really made of. Sweetie and Ashish find that they may have more in common than first realized.

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo (5/7/19): Despite my incapability of talking about this book without breaking into the song by Keane, I can’t wait for this one! It sounds like the perfect summer read! Jack will do anything to impress his paparazzi father. When his paths cross with a famous K-pop star in Hong Kong, sparks ignite and he must decide whether to see where this relationship leads or to make his father proud instead.

Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard (5/7/19): I was hoping for a non-Red Queen book from Victoria Aveyard since I finished reading the series last year. And this may be unpopular opinion, but I was satisfied with how the series ended. Broken Throne is a collection of Red Queen short stories, some we’ve already read and then several new ones. I’m excited to see if Aveyard will tie up the loose ends she left open in War Storm.

My friends got me into Westworld and it is so remarkable. Storytelling at its best. And I’m only a few episodes in the first season. I hear that the story gets even more tangled and mind-blowing the more it continues. Also, I just finished watching every single Marvel movie to date in time for opening weekend of Avengers: Endgame. It was good and I can’t wait to see what comes next in the Marvel universe.

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How was your April? Did you read any amazing books? Did you watch any fantastic shows/movies?